Net effects

I had a couple of fairly lengthy discussions on the themes of The Shallows this week:

On the NPR program On Point, I talked about the book with Tom Ashbrook. New York Times blogger Nick Bilton provided a dissenting view. Listen.

And I discussed the book with Jerry Brito, of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, as part of his excellent Surprisingly Free podcast series. Listen.

Finally, if you’d like to get a sense of the scope of the book’s content, I’d recommend taking a look at Michael Agger’s review at Slate.

5 thoughts on “Net effects

  1. John Schoettler


    I enjoyed the NPR ‘Point On’ interview and I was glad they had Nick Bilton to offer the counter perspective. It should be no surprise to anyone that you provided the superior and better articulated argument.

    Nick Bilton’s argument that games are superior vehicles of story telling (and or education) is rather absurd. Over the last 25 years I have played many video games and I can tell you that outside of a few exceptions most video games are about killing/destroying something before it kills you. If anything, the popularity of video games like World of Warcraft (hunting) and Farmville (gathering) only reinforce the notion that the digital world appears to feeding our more primal instincts.

    Carnegie Melt University Professor Jessie Schell did a very good job explaining (in a strange sort of way) how video games will be interjected in almost every facet of our daily lives. According to him, there are more Farmville players than Twitter accounts. I think you would find his talk (link below) very interesting (if you haven’t already seen it):

  2. Claude Almansi

    In the title of your book, is “The Shallows” a marine metaphor (“shallow seas” where one might get stranded) or does it indicate “shallow people”, please?

    I thought the former, until I saw tweets in Spanish about your book (1) where “The Shallows” was translated as “Los Superficiales”.

    (1) By the way, is an interesting source of links to reviews of your book. If you read French, this is where I found the reference to psychologist Yann Leroux’ .

  3. Qualexander

    Well, Internet is rewiring our brains.

    But it’s possible to use some kind of cerebral fitness for re-rewiring. Perhaps, some practices of meditation (yoga?).

    Reduce of unskilled work didn’t cause a physical degradation of people. Thanks to fitness.

  4. Brian Quass

    After reading “The Shallows” this weekend, I would like to thank you for an insightful book and to comment on one of the specific issues that it raised: namely, this notion among the believers in the Church of Google that book reading is obsolete.

    This attitude reminds me of a quote from Shakespeare: “How well he’s read, to reason against reading”

    — except that the quote that really comes to mind for me in this case is less flattering — namely: “How poorly read they must be to reason thus against reading.”

    I still fondly remember reading Rabelais over two decades ago, but if you asked me for snippets or outtakes that would explain my fondness to the Larry Pages of the world, I would be at a loss to respond, and not just because I don’t necessarily have the greatest IQ and memory, either. I couldn’t respond because what I found admirable about Rabelais is the way that his prose seemed to let him rise above the sad realities of life, giving me the very real impression that here was an author who was able to have the last laugh on Fate by virtue of his humorous wordcraft. For the first time, I saw that an author did not have to be a brow-mopping nervous wreck who was “done in” by the trying realities of life, but could be someone who (in the words of another triumphantly ebullient author of this kind, Omar Khayyam) “rewrote” that reality “closer to the heart’s desire.” What I admired, in short, was the personality of the writer, their approach to life, a quality that I only indirectly intuited over time as I became increasingly familiar with the author’s style, as I, so to speak, got to “know” them. I can’t believe that I would have had similar feelings about Rabelais 20+ years on if all I had ever done in the past was read a list of his famous epigrams at or a one-paragraph bio on his life at

    Thanks again for the great book.

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